Being a parent is kind of like being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan. There are a lot of rough years with ups and downs. There is always some critic who tells you what is wrong with your game plan. Fights happen. And yet, you have faith. You cheer on. You suffer in silence. With great patience you believe that one-day you will achieve your goal: your child will turn out okay.
This metaphor came to me on route to the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Washington Capitals. I scored two seats, sixteen rows behind the goalie. My date for the evening was my favorite defensemen; my nine year-old son. We were off to the big leagues.
I find that the best conversations between my son and I happen when we are on the road to anywhere. On this night, he was silent. The anticipation of an NHL hockey game was too much. Since I am used to spending time with his sister, the chatterbox whose capacity for speech is incomprehensible, I found this silent copilot a little unsettling.
To avoid the awkward silence, I flipped through the radio stations until I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival. My thumbs immediately started drumming the steering wheel as I sang along, turning the volume slightly louder than necessary. One CCR song followed another interrupted only by the uncanny voice of John Fogerty, taking listeners through the history of the Cosmo’s Factory album, one of my all-time favorites that debuted on the anniversary of my birth.
I waited for my silent copilot to complain. Surely this foreign music would offend his top 40 tastes. Ah, but then it happened; the magic of rock’n roll. I saw my son’s feet starting to keep the beat. Then his hands started to drum on his knees. His head started to bob. The infectious thrill of rhythm had struck his imagination and I realized he wasn’t just listening to this music, he was really hearing it for the first time. Sweet.
I knew that the drum kit in my son’s bedroom would never sound the same. All the way to the city we listened to that album, the original and a live performance. He never asked me to change the channel. Instead, we talked about the sound of those drums, the blues guitar riffs and the pounding bass lines. He picked it apart as if solving a musical, mathematical mystery.
Fogerty’s stories opened up a dialogue for us about Viet Nam, Woodstock and the hippie movement. We had an honest talk about the drug culture of the late sixties that opened the door to a frank discussion about drugs today. We laughed at Fogerty’s twang in the remake of “Heard it through the Grape Vine,” and we talked about the origin of blues music, including a short history lesson on the civil rights movement as CCR sang Arthur Crudup’s “My Baby Left Me.”
Somewhere in there we watched the Toronto Maple Leafs trounce the Washington Capitals 7 to 1. We sang Happy Birthday to hockey legend Johnny Bower. We sneered at Ovechkin. We cheered, did the wave, sang O Canada and yelled at bad plays, together.
Yes being a parent is like being a Leaf Fan. You do it because you love it, not because you need trophies (cough). Well, score one for the home team because on that night it was good to be a Leaf Fan, but it was event better to be my defenseman’s Mom. (Stanley Cup to follow).
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.